Matters of the heart

If the Town of Norwich merged with the city, “residents of the town will pay taxes for something they don’t receive,” contended Supervisor Dave Law Wednesday at an intermunicipal committee meeting.

“Do you really know that?” asked city Mayor Joe Maiurano.

“I know it in my heart,” Law shot back, connecting what was an unexpected knock-out punch from the ropes that immediately dropped any chance Maiurano had of winning that debate dead on the mat.

The debate: Whether or not the town should take part in a shared municipal services grant with the city to look at any number of ways the town and city could possibly become more efficient by combining costs.

Maiurano lost the fight before it even started. Because logic, practicality, rationality, and making sense don’t stand a chance against matters of the heart – and Dave Law says he knows in his heart what’s best for Town of Norwich taxpayers and their future. And it doesn’t involve spending $1,700 – at the most – to take part in a study that will audit highway operations, health benefits, administrative services, emergency services, and water and sewer infrastructure (just to name a few areas) to see where things may or may not improve cooperatively.

Why? Because they don’t want Albany’s help, they don’t want anything studied that comes within a 1,000 miles of hinting at the word “merger,” and they want to spend much more than $1,700 to only look at creating a fire district, again, because “it’s the biggest cost to our taxpayers,” Law said (apparently, rather than spend less money to benefit the two municipalities, the town would rather they both spend more to only help one).

Contrary to the Norwich town board’s belief, the study would not be conducted by Albany and it wouldn’t have any bearing on a merger or consolidation. Albany just ponies up 90 percent of the required money. And whether it’s merging, keeping the status quo or starting a town/city border war – whatever happens after the study is complete is still entirely up to both sides. The study – conducted by consultants the town and city agree on – would just be a cheap resource provided by an outside, expert perspective. Between the information and savings in time, money and legwork by locals, essentially there is nothing to lose.

But it’s impossible to argue with matters of the heart. That’s what’s so great about them. That and they’re easy arguments to produce (don’t require a lot of thought, hence coming from the heart). You don’t need proof, you don’t need a good defense to back up a point – you just need to say ludicrous things with conviction, and people will either agree with you or they’ll get frustrated and leave you alone.

“When I look to my heart, it tells me that Burger King’s French fries are better than McDonald’s,” I valiantly claimed once during a hostile roundtable discussion at lunch break. “They’re my tastebuds, and I don’t need to explain them to you or anyone else, nor should I have to.”

It’s a bad example, but it’s true – we shouldn’t have to defend our personal preferences as they relate to French fries or anything else, like choosing favorite songs, best friends, or who we fall in love with. Those are all gut calls. The real question is: Should looking at the future of this entire area be left to gut reactions and personal feelings, or should such an endeavor be undertaken by people who aren’t worried about winning and losing, and should their discoveries be founded on empirical evidence?

A merger, consolidation, consolidation study, shared services study or anything else regarding any kind of cooperation between the City of Norwich and the Town of Norwich will never happen if it remains a matter of the heart. Some might say that’s fine, but is it good government?


Speaking of “good government,” in my opinion, the Chenango IDA did not notify the public about its most recent monthly meeting Tuesday, which was a make-up for the one that got canceled last week. IDA officials claimed that telling me the Friday before the meeting where and when it was to take place was sufficient enough. First, the IDA did notify me, but didn’t indicate – just like they have never done through me in past – that this was the official notice and that it be published. They have always mailed or sent a fax containing that very message. Second, they only told me where the meeting was after I requested that information a few days after the original was canceled – they didn’t offer it on their own. Third, the message left to me did not say for certain when and where the meeting was, only that it “might” occur on that day at that time.

That scenario might fulfill what the IDA feels is its requirement for public notification, but it shouldn’t.

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